Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Study to pass school (aka get credentials) or Study to Learn?

After interviewing a lot of candidates for software development jobs, I am starting to remember the days when I went to school and I am wondering about the following question:

Should students study to pass college or should they study to learn?

This question comes from my concerns that I have about candidates from both great and average universities. There is no direct relation between your skills and your credentials; it is really up to individuals and how they approached studying. When I attended the University of Toronto in mid-90s, I studied Computer/Electrical engineering. This university was considered to be one of the top three universities for computer/electrical engineering program in Canada, and also among the top 10 when compared to big players in US. My parents were willing to pay for me to go to this school even though I had a full scholarship offer with another average university.
Did I make the right choice attending the better school? Are you making right choices now?
Right choices? It all depends on how I approached my studying. If I had studied to only pass and get good credentials from University of Toronto, then my parents’ money was not invested properly. I studied to learn and if that meant that it would actually affect my grade in a negative way, that’s how I approached it. This may not make sense, but we all remember the days from our college when exams had things that you would never apply in real life and in the meantime the courses were also teaching things that were very applicable in real life. If you studied to learn things for long term, then a lot of times you would get in trouble. Don’t misunderstand me here. Yes, there are things that are taught in courses for which you can’t see applications in real life in that given moment, but you need to plow through it and you will see answers to these doubts at the end.
I have also seen the opposite effects. I am talking about schools diving into real life examples too soon without teaching students good fundamentals in that area. If every student approached this, then nobody would be inventing new things; it would just be a game of putting components together. There has to be some golden balance.
Going back to interviews that I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Regardless of your school credentials, you need to have very strong fundamentals and you need to be able to apply those fundamentals at the right time. For example, software engineering is a very wide field these days and it is impossible to have expertise in all the areas. This is where the fundamental knowledge kicks in. When you jump from field to field in software engineering industry, you will not know everything but you will need to apply those fundamentals and learn quickly. That’s where you separate yourself from others.
In conclusion:
Put the credentials of your university aside and use the great things from your school to learn.
Almir (almirsCorner.com)
#school #college #university #study #credentials #tech #softwareengineering #computerscience #programming #coding

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